Brexit: PM says deal ‘still there to be done’ ahead of crunch trip

Publishedduration1 hour ago

media captionAddressing trade talks with the EU, Boris Johnson has “absolutely no doubt this country is going to prosper mightily”.

Boris Johnson has said the EU is insisting on terms “no prime minister could accept” in UK-EU trade talks.

The PM told MPs “a good deal is still there to be done”, ahead of post-Brexit deal negotiations with the European Commission president.

But he said the EU was seeking an “automatic right” to retaliate against the UK if its labour and environmental standards diverged from theirs.

He will have dinner with the EU chief Ursula von der Leyen this evening.

The prime minister also suggested the EU could not accept the UK having sovereign control over its fishing waters after Brexit, as he answered questions at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Time is running out to reach a deal before 31 December, when the UK stops following EU trading rules.

Major disagreements remain on fishing rights, business competition rules and how a deal will be policed.

At the dinner, expected to begin at 19:00 GMT, the prime minister will work through a list of the major sticking points with Mrs von der Leyen, who is representing the leaders of the 27 EU nations.

A UK government source said progress at a political level may allow the UK’s negotiator Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier – who will both also attend the dinner – to resume their work over the coming days.

But the source added that it was important to be “realistic” that an agreement might not be possible.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove outlined details on post-Brexit border checks and trading rules for Northern Ireland, after agreement was reached with the EU.

Brexit – The basics

  • Brexit happened but rules didn’t change at once: The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, but leaders needed time to negotiate a deal for life afterwards – they got 11 months.
  • Talks are happening: The UK and the EU have until 31 December 2020 to agree a trade deal as well as other things, such as fishing rights.
  • If there is no deal: Border checks and taxes will be introduced for goods travelling between the UK and the EU. But deal or no deal, we will still see changes.

‘Deal still there’

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson warned that a deal would not be possible if the EU continued to insist that if it was to pass a new law in the future – and the UK did not follow suit – it wanted the “automatic right punish us and retaliate” with tariffs on goods.

He also claimed that the EU wanted the UK to become the “only country in the world” not to have “sovereign control” over its fishing waters.

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